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August 2019 Member of the Month: norm356





We'd like to congratulate norm356 – Norm for being selected as the August 2019 Member of the Month!


Hayden: Tell us a bit about yourself (Family/pets, work/school, hobbies/interests, location, etc.)

Norm: I am a Senior Principal Engineer at Toyota Technical Center in Ann Arbor, MI, in Body Design for Functional Hardware. I’ve been with Toyota for 29 years. When I started in 1990, we only had 12 engineers in a rented office in Southfield, and TTC was an experiment to answer the question, “Can Toyota develop a car outside of TMC headquarters?”

Now, after what seemed like the blink of an eye (and 30 years later), we’ve got around 1,800 staff in two campuses (AA and York, MI). The development and growth of this organization (on both sides of the Pacific) has been a wonderful thing to watch and be a part of. Travel to Japan was constant during the first 10 years or so (typically a month, or more, at a time). I think I've gone there at least 25 times, and spent more than a year, overall. Japan is a very pretty country, and the Japanese people are amazing hosts, but I struggle with the crowds, the hot, humid weather and can't eat seafood, so there's that.

I’ve worked in Body shell, Evaluation, Interior, Manufacturing and finally found my way to Body Functional Hardware.
Then, after being a manager for about 10 years, I eventually moved on to become an SPE (for the past 5 years).
Mangers work to develop young team members to be future leaders. As an SPE I work to develop new technology to be adopted to future projects.

I’m a trained first responder/EMT and volunteer as Ski Patrol at Mt. Brighton, MI in the winters. My long term goal is to work at a ski resort out west and be a proper ski bum. This is what my FJ is for. It is my "RV" for cross-country trips out west (it takes about 24 hours to drive to Utah, Wyoming or Colorado from my house).

I am restoring a V6 manual transmission 1993 Camry that I've owned since new. I drove it all these years because I like it and haven’t found a newer vehicle I liked better. When it got old, and completely rusted out, I tried to find a replacement and realized I could restore it cheaper than buying a new car, and hopefully get another 25 years (and another 200,000 miles) of trouble-free motoring. First, I found a rust-free body in Montana on the internet, had it shipped here, added agility welds, crack-tested the shell and cleaned it up ready for paint. The race team turned me on to a great engine guy who is rebuilding my 3VZ-FE V6 engine (originally developed for the T100 truck, tough as nails and great low-down torque). The 5speed manual transmission is still as good as new, so I’m just putting new seals and cleaning it up. Luckily, Toyota still stocked most of the key suspension and other wear parts, so, when I am done, I expect to have a “brand new” 1993 Camry. This is the same car the Onion issued their “recall notice” for, saying, “Really, people should have moved on to a newer car by now!”.


Hayden: How did you come to own an FJ Cruiser? Is the FJ Cruiser your first off-road vehicle? If not, what was the first vehicle you took wheeling?

Norm: I’ve never owned a truck before. I’d always preferred small, nimble cars. But, once when my Honda Civic was in the shop they loaned me a Jeep Cherokee and I was surprised at how good a small well sorted truck could be. Years later I got to drive an FJ and was hooked. It was far more appealing to me than the “floppy” Tacoma, and much smaller than the otherwise nice 4Runner. When 2014 came and they stopped making them I got serious.

Then TMS announced in early 2015 they were stopping their supercharger sales too, I jumped.

In July of 2015 I found one of the very last TRD S/C kits left, in Coos Bay, OR.

So, I owned about $6k of S/C kit but still no FJ, for a few weeks. After an extensive, nationwide search I found a black MT in an auction on Long Island. I bought it sight unseen (only a blurry Carfax report), had it shipped to me and it was / has been perfect.





Hayden: How/when were you first introduced to the forum and what made you decide to join?

Norm: Coworkers with FJs came out of the woodwork. One (who is restoring an FJ 70) told me about IH8MUD and this forum.

I lurked here for a while and learned so MUCH that I joined and became increasingly more active.

Every time I am about to do something I’ll search here first and find all I need to know to do it well.

I appreciate how well everyone gets along here and how helpful folks are with solving people’s problems.


Hayden: What modification is your favorite or is the most worth the money/time/effort that you’d recommend it to someone else?

Norm:
Definitely putting in LED dome lights.
Supercharger.
Japan spec outside mirror glass (convex + heaters).
Replacing the over stylized stock “FJammer” head unit with a navi audio with Bluetooth, SD card reader, USB, hands free phone and backup camera.
Big 7x15” mud flaps to keep it somewhat clean on long winter road trips.
Sheepskin drivers seat cover for long road trips (cool in summer, warm in winter, comfortable all of the time).
Clutch defeat switch.
7” PIAA driving lights on the front bumper.
Studless snow tires (Michelin X-Ice) on a set of painted black steel rims for winter.
Rustproofing, rustproofing, rustproofing!





Hayden: What upgrade is your least favorite, or what modification would you do differently if you had to do it over again?

Norm: hmm. None yet.


Hayden: What has been your favorite thing about owning an FJ Cruiser?

Norm: driving west for skiing. One of these days hope to make it to the summit (I tend to use up all of my vacation time in the winter).




Hayden: Has anyone on the forum inspired your build or been a go-to resource for you?

Norm: All of them. Many great ideas came from people who are long gone now. Many new ideas keep coming from those who are here now.


Hayden: Where all have you been with your FJC? What trail/park/location is your favorite?

Norm: Driving 24 hours from Michigan to Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, for ski trips. I have taken many dozens of 12 hour road trips, and several 24 hour ones, in a lot of vehicles over the years, but I have never driven as far or as long and been as comfortable at the end of the day as I am in this FJ.




Hayden: Is there a trail/park/location you haven’t visited yet that you would like to take your FJ to someday?

Norm: Easy: the FJ Summit.




Hayden: Any insider Toyota opinion on the possible return of an FJ Cruiser to the US market?[/ COLOR]

Norm: Unfortunately, no.


Hayden: What has been the most memorable experience with your FJ Cruiser?

Norm: My first big road trip, I had been at Toyota for 25 years and decided to take 6 weeks off for a “surfin safari” ski trip. On my way out west I stopped and visited with friends and family scattered around the country. Skied 5 out of those 6 weeks, had great adventures and met amazing people. “Trip of a lifetime “ (the trouble with something like that is you immediately begin thinking about how you can somehow get to do it every year, from then on!)


Hayden: What do you enjoy the most about the FJCrusierForums?

Norm: Helpful, even tempered people (rare on the internet).


Hayden: What has the FJCruiserForums done for you and what do you feel you contribute to the forum the most?

Norm: Tons of amazing ideas, insight and guidance for everything related to my wonderful FJ.

I try to help out however I can.

I check / look up facts from my reference files before posting.


Hayden: In a world without new FJ Cruisers being built, do you plan on keeping yours forever or upgrading to a newer model ever?

Norm: Forever

(see above comment about rustproofing)




Hayden: What do you expect to be in your FJs future build-wise/travel-wise/etc?

Norm: Aux tank.


Hayden: What final advice do you have for someone new to the FJ Cruiser or the Forum?

Norm: Don’t automatically lift it, or put on big showy bumpers. Drive it a while and modify based on your needs, not for “looks”




 

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I Have a V-8!! Moderator
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Congratulations!
 

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Congratulations Norm, you DEFINITELY deserve this! I’m so glad you’re here, and always appreciate your knowldgeable, well-reasoned posts :rocker:
 

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Congrats, and thanks for sharing.

Any posts/links/advice to your SPOTLESS engine bay? Wow! ...or the rustproofing you've already done (I'm assuming) on your truck?
 

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YES! Function over "pretty"! I once had a '74 MGB, what a fun little car. My first mod on that one was to relocate the fuel line so it wouldn't vapor lock. Texas is a little warmer than England.

But congratulations!
 

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Congrats!
 

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Congrats Norm. Great write up. Just incase you ever hear of the FJ coming back to the US give the info. Maybe Toyota would kick you down a bonus if you got 10 to 20K worth the FJs presold :)
 

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Thanks everyone!
:)



"Any posts/links/advice to your SPOTLESS engine bay? Wow! ...or the rustproofing you've already done (I'm assuming) on your truck?"

Here are a few more photos, I have got to admit though that I didn't do that cleanup myself. A service station down the road is owned by a really friendly Armenian (and his shop is like the UN, workers from Jordan, Ukraine, Russia and I think even America) who talked me into letting his guys do the job. My main request was: no shiny "treatments" to my dashboard (I should have said, "anywhere", because they must have used a gallon of the stuff on my floor mats). My other request was: get off as much of the white corrosion / crust off of the aluminum engine as you can. They went after it with brass wire brushes and it looks great.

I suspect that a previous owner had used some really caustic engine cleaner or something, because I was frankly worried about the condition of the cast aluminum when I got it. But after finally getting it a very thorough wire brushing it looks like healthy and clean again.

For the rustproofing, you'll have to search the forum for the many threads I've posted on it over the years. Way too much for me to repeat here. Key points: scrape/scrub/wire brush off as much red rust as you can, clean the surface very well with solvent to remove all wax/oil and then apply a phosphate rinse to convert any remaining iron oxide to iron phosphate and then go over that with a good quality black paint. Once that all dries, go over that with a good quality undercoating, and then over that with a body wax (especially inside of the suspension arms/structure/frame). Then, apply Fluid Film every fall (it works well, and is thin enough to get into tight spaces, but also tends to rinse/wash off over time).

Also, remove each of the door trims and the rear quarter trim and spray body wax/fluid film into those cavities, down near the bottom hem flange. When done make sure all drain holes are still open to let water out. Each fall, with a long straw, spray a little more FF up into those doors, and also into the rockers via the drain holes at the bottom along the pinch flange.


Norm
 

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Norm, if this is high-jacking your thread I'm sorry and can delete this and post elsewhere...

For the rustproofing...

Norm
So I've read most of your rust prevention posts, and thank you for them all! Very detailed and very informative.

Did you put yours up on a lift to treat your rust-belt FJ? I couldn't imagine scooting around on my back under the FJ with rust falling into my nose, mouth, ears, etc as I wire brush it off, or getting paint all over my garage and myself, etc, etc - it doesn't sound like a easy task at all(!), and that's why I've gotten two quotes on having someone do it for me, but I worry it won't be done as thoroughly as I would like.

One shop is a larger shop that a lot of local car dealerships send their new cars to get rust proofed, and the other is a small mom and pop shop that's been around since the early 1900's. I felt more comfortable w/ the smaller shop, as the tech allowed me into the shop to show me the rust and to show me exactly what he will do which consists of knocking the rust off w/ an air hammer, cleaning it and then painting it. He also said he would shoot POR15 into the frame if I bought it for him.

The other shop (the larger one) take a more Ziebart approach with high temp pressure steaming of the rust and parts, then painting it in some way, and also filling the doors and other parts of the body where appropriate. Also, they said they would re-paint the car for free every year for as long as I own the car.

Both are asking $600.

I would love to be able to have access to a lift in a garage for a weekend as I do know I would do it the correct and thorough way following the steps you've so graciously posted, but that is out of the question as I don't know anyone in the car repair bizz.

I'm not sure if I'm asking "what would you do" or if I'm just venting, but I really want this done before winter. I'll keep the forum posted as to what I do, and again, many thanks for the info you provide to this forum. It's much appreciated!
 

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When I work on my FJ I jack it up onto jack stands and then slide around on a sheet of corrugated cardboard.

when applying phosphate or FF by a spray gun applicator (large amounts), I lay a sheet of plastic on the driveway and drive onto that, then jack it up and pull the dirty plastic sheet out before lowering the tires back onto the ground (so they don't roll on and collect slippery FF on their treads). Don't forget to also protect the brakes (slippery = not good). A garbage bag taped around each brake/hub is more than enough protection.

Frankly, when doing (the much smaller) annual FF updates with a rattle can, I don't do anything, simply sweep off the driveway (to make it nice for me to slide around on) and reach under while working my way around (no tires off, no jack or stands), then let the weather rinse the drips off the driveway after. I bought a really long straw to get inside of things, and to spray around things with accuracy ( = no need to mask the brakes, or belts).

Notice that in all of the above scenarios, I do them outside in the driveway, never in the garage/workshop (too much masking/cleanup would be involved).

When I had the really big paint/undercoat work done I took it to a good painter, because the key to getting any kind of paint or undercoat to stick is surface prep and no one knows that better than a painter. Improperly applied undercoat will peel/crack and make worse rust traps than an untreated surface would have had.

Note that paint/undercoat (which must be able to bond to the surface) must be done before spraying things like FF or body wax around (which are designed to make it hard for anything to stick). If yours already has, then use oven cleaner to remove it for the paint to stick.

My own personal opinion: run away from Ziebart, in my life experience they spray the lowest cost petroleum based gloop on the bottom of cars that then rusted anyway, because it clogged drain holes, failed to adhere properly due to poor prep and lord knows what else, and the myriad holes they drill (DRILL!) into the body to insert their stuff rusted around the edges of those holes on the last car I owned which had been "treated" by someone before I owned it. Maybe things have changed since then, but I agree with you: if you want it done right, do it yourself.

I put off doing this kind of work on my cars in the past and then cried watching them rust away. Now that I know WHY I am doing it, the work is much less hard to talk myself into.
 
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